Protect Poet Walt Whitman's New York City Home
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Walt Whitman, America's most famous poet, lived at 99 Ryerson Street in Brooklyn, New York when his world famous book Leaves of Grass was first published in 1855. While Whitman lived in over 30 places in what is today New York City during this lifetime, the house at 99 Ryerson Street is the ONLY ONE still standing. Accordingly, 99 Ryerson Street is of great cultural and historical significance. It tells not only the story of a key moment in American poetry and literature, but also the story of a towering figure in global culture.
We are seeking official city landmark designation from New York City to protect the building from demolition, especially because development is encroaching on the neighborhood. While the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission initially rejected our request, the Commission is currently reviewing additional information and research that we provided on the significance of the site and Walt Whitman's association with the site. We need your help convincing the Commission to landmark this critically important building.
The house at 99 Ryerson Street is one of only two buildings directly associated with Walt Whitman that are still standing in New York City. It would be an unforgivable tragedy to lose this crucially important building to history. Join us in protecting this important cultural resource for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.
Quotes from supporters:
"To protect a house like this one, it seems to me, is a form of cultural stewardship.
For this house to disappear would be something like an extinction: such a place cannot be got back, not ever, once it is lost." - George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo and winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize
“During my time as Poet Laureate of the United States, my travels in our country and abroad gave me a renewed sense of Walt Whitman’s ongoing, central importance. Poets writing in other languages, on every continent have looked to Whitman’s work for an epitome of what is most liberating in the culture of the United States. Please let me add my voice to those hoping that you will recognize his house in Brooklyn as a true landmark.” - Robert Pinsky, former U.S. Poet Laureate
"I feel a particular relationship to Whitman and, maybe more to the point, a strong sense of just how much impact not only his work but his physical presence had on the New York City of his day. I do hope you’ll revisit the question of the house on Ryerson as a historic landmark." - Michael Cunningham, award winning author
“2019 marks the bicentennial of Walt Whitman’s birth. We hope to celebrate Whitman’s groundbreaking contributions to literature by landmarking the site most associated with his seminal work by the time that key milestone arrives. I hope the Commission understands this is not about the architectural merit of 99 Ryerson Street but rather its incredibly significant cultural value.” - Professor Karen Karbiener, founder of the Walt Whitman Initiative
“The city needs more landmarks like this one to help narrate the histories of LGBT Americans – and it needs to consider cultural landmarks seriously rather than aesthetic landmarks alone.” - Jay Shockley, co-founder of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project
“If Whitman’s Leaves of Grass gave birth to American poetry, then Brooklyn is the
birthplace of our art, and 99 Ryerson Street is the last remaining cradle. The Commission needs to reconsider its initial rejection.” - Jason Koo, executive director and founder of Brooklyn Poets
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